Saturday, June 16, 2012



And it’s funny how we carry each other
within ourselves like mingled waters
that taste of the moon,
that taste of bruised orchids
in the shadow of all those glass greenhouses,
Eden in a Mason jar,
that learned to throw stones,
and mysteriously engaging
that we go on creating each other as we have
forever inseparably each on his own
alone together with everyone
wondering why we exist
to know one day we won’t.

Gates and roads and miles and whispers away
and a longing that can only be measured
in the lightyears of a star
and all the eras, all the trances of time
of passion and extinction,
of despair that turned on hope like a toxin
and hope that flared like the third man on a match
learning to brighten the stars
by deepening its darkness,
I have lived from eclipse to eclipse
like an unintelligible abyss who misses everyone
for the quality of breath and death and emptiness
that makes me me
when I want to be impossibly alone
and the memories have issues and agendas of their own
like a dead branch trying to witch for water at a window.

Where are you now?
Who were you?
Have I survived?
Whose ashes are these?
Now I am the tree. And you are the wind
and the pursuit of nothing flows on endlessly like life and water.

And all the lovely deserts that enhanced the moon
and coaxed me out of my old delirium
into a deeper one
by drinking the viper in the grail
they lifted to my lips like a gate
that everyone comes to like a stranger
prodigally returning to his own homelessness,
following the wind like a siren of sand
have slipped through my fingers like music,
though my voice still tastes of them
when I drink from their reflections,
not knowing whether I have become
a darkness in the light
or a light in the darkness
but grateful for the grander perspective
from the bottom of the well
where they showed me their stars at noon
and the sun at midnight
and how the fires that nourish love
cannot be put out like torches
in their own shadows
anymore than a bird can fall from its feathers.




Carrying water to the burning house,
the bottom of the bucket falls out,
a ship on the rocks, a hemorrhaging bell
that broke one of the blood vessels
in its throat like a pipeline to its vocal cords.

I see a woman who went back into the fire
for her purse, her hands pleading against the window
like a Neanderthal cave painting,
melting into the glass like a fly in amber.

Charred vision of a dangerous day in the sunlight.
I don’t want to be writing about this.
I want to be writing about red-winged blackbirds
swaying on the cattails like dozy metronomes
and something sufficiently eternal in the suffusion of sun.
Undisciplined, as if life were all I had to do.

Deep within me someone is angry and weeping.
There’s a wound that wants to take over my mouth
and bleed all over the page like blood on the snow
of a small, warm animal dying under a juniper bush.
I’m usually too uncertain of myself to be
dedicated to this kind of suicide,
but I suspect I’ve fallen into a black hole
and there’s no starmap out of this one.
I’m trying to generate light out of my own body
like a firefly, but I’m only wasting matches
by trying to ignite them in a mirage of rain.
Is it my wound? Is it hers? Am I finished with dying?
It would take a crystallographer to know
how my diamonds hurt like wounded coal.

Whose life is it I’m trying to save
like a madman with a grammar of my own
that talks in tongues to the immaculate indifference
of an abyss that been listening for light years
to me scattering my ashes on the wind
in pointillist flocks of red-winged blackbirds
emerging out of chaos into urgent paradigms
of minerals that learned to replicate their fractals.
Either that, or panspermic microbes in
time capsule meteors landing in the Gobi desert
like the ejecta of Mars or Europa, fire or black ice,
the fashionistas of a planet in hand me down clothes.

Second or third pressing of the grape.
Someone stepped on the coke with stars.
There’s an arsonist in the methane like a fire storm
trying to melt its own polarized ice caps
like the skull of a dragon in total eclipse.
Who knows the secret life of shepherd moons
anymore than they do their own mind
this far from the sun? If there’s any compassion
in a perfect vacuum, God help them both.
If not, I’ve got to rely upon this poem like a lifeboat
with a hole in it the size of the universe
to save my life from the upwelling of things
I don’t understand about me in this tsunami
of hyperbolic sorrow and dysfunctional salvage.

Maybe it’s a sign I should go down with the ship.
Maybe I should affix a gold earring to my left ear
like a drowned sailor and hope I’m not buried alive
when I wash up on shore, a toy of the tides.
Maybe I should have had the star of Isis
tattooed on my left palm to keep me from drowning,
or paddled close to shore with waterwings
that keep the well-stocked poetlings from sinking
instead of being swept out of my own depths
by the roiling of this turbid undertow that pulls me down?

Dogen Zenji: When the truth fills your body and mind
you always feel that something’s missing.
When it doesn’t, you always feel you’ve had enough.
Have I had enough and no longer care what’s missing?
All my koans are in despair. I feel like
making a sling of my yellow belt and shooting
my skull into the sun like an asteroid that just missed earth.




Your eyes for awhile
were the only eyes
I could see through
to catch a glimpse of God;
were windows into my own soul
that I could look through from the outside
without throwing the moon
through my reflection like a stone
in the hand of an angry boy.

And it was always as true
as the way your heart grew
that you could love strangers
easier than I do even now
after all these years of learning how
to talk to mirrors in their own language.
And you were not one woman
but all women forever
when I saw you once
bending down like the dusk
to touch the last of the flowers
as if you would never see them again.
As serene as the evening
there was no labour in your beauty
and I swear when I saw you that night
I felt as if I were the whole world watching
time put a finger to its lips
and pour its fountain
into the flow of your body
as if it were the sum of all passage.

And though I was your friend in all things
every evening since
the candle went out
in the lantern of a lost tomorrow
I have walked out into abandoned fields alone
and asked the saddest questions
of the most distant stars
knowing there is not enough light sometimes
even in the eyes of God
to be a companion of our sorrows.

And the questions grow longer
as the darkness deepens
the echo of my longing
in a well as dry as my skull
and closes its gates like scars.

And then those nights come
like a life or a day
or even just this moment
when I stop asking
why human suffering
is always indescribably true,

and joyful as an irreproachable buffoon
sword-dancing alone with the moon
who writes me dangerous loveletters
as if she were the Lady of the Lake
receiving me back
like a funeral ship
into this mysterium of you,
I can almost believe that you know
even though the night mocks the crow
that pines for mercy
and turns its lightless face toward you
as if it could still feel
the warmth of the sun at midnight
in your eyes again
like the afterlife of light
playing with fireflies in the abyss
now that the summer constellations have gone down;

that somehow you must know
like a guitar
on the far side of a room
where someone is singing
as if they had their ear
to the womb
of your irrevocable absence
that binds me to you with every breath
I take for two
as if I had learned to live on death
to keep you alive in me
where you still flow through the seasons
on the nightstreams of my blood
like blossoms and leaves and stars
and the moon leaves no scars on the water;

Must know. Or a demon’s a kinder face
to bestow on the darkness
than a black hole without eyes,
though it’s taken many, long, painful years
for the night to share the light with its jewels again
and as many schools as there are fools to fill them

that even just one
of those slightly compassionate smiles
you would send across the room
to cool the furnace of my heart
with the lightness of one snowflake,
one feather
gracing a change in the weather,
knew more about love
as a raindrop knows the sea
than all of us
who have been washed up
on this cold, lonely shore together
thinking we may have been saved
for something more
than this tidal longing
to brave the sea again
and even if doomed to drown
as I have learned
from these shales of pain
that have carbon-dated the eras
of my missing you
like a life that didn’t
flash before my eyes
as I went down for good with everything,
to thank-you, o, yes,
with nothing but love and light in my heart
and your face in the eye of my solitude
as I stand before the sea in gratitude
to thank-you
as you well knew one day I could
for the generosity of the wound
that has run like my life
down these eyes
these windows
this page
these empty mirrors
of autumn rain

that have wept for years without you
just to see you again
for one moment more
than the time I have left
to know that I never will.